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The second quarter brings more layoffs

Although it doesn’t seem possible that newsrooms could become any emptier, more cubicles will be abandoned as cutbacks continue across the board. A recent study from the American Society of News Editors found that the number of editorial staffers employed at U.S. newspapers continued to decrease in a 6.4 percent drop from 2011 to 2012. But newspapers aren’t the only media to see declines in the newsroom, or in other departments. In 2013, there have been a number of news organizations instituting cutbacks. Here’s a few that have made headlines in that last several months.

  • Last week, the Plain Dealer announced it would be making layoffs in the marketing, finance, information technology, pre-press and building service departments, with some additional editorial layoffs as well. According to the Poynter Institute, the cutbacks are likely to happen at the end of July or in early August. The layoffs come just as the Plain Dealer, which is owned by Advance Publications, announced a reduction in home delivery to four days a week.
  • Earlier this month it was rumored that the Wall Street Journal was offering buyouts. A recent Bloomberg article confirms this, reporting that News Corp.’s Dow Jones company is eliminating positions and giving buyouts as it integrates the newsrooms of the Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, while also splitting off its publishing group from its entertainment group. According to Bloomberg, fewer than a dozen people have taken buyout offers, but no exact number relating to the cutbacks has been announced. Another News Corp., newspaper also made cutbacks in early June when the New York Post laid off 13 full-time positions, citing the need to reduce costs and reimagine the company.
  • The Oregonian laid off roughly 95 employees last week, reported the Williamette Week, with at least 45 in the editorial department. This comes on the heels as the Advance-owned Oregonian announced it would be cutting back its home delivery to four days a week on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those laid off include editorial columnist David Sarasohn, environmental reporter Scott Learn and Multnomah County reporter Dana Tims. The changes to delivery are slated to start Oct. 1.
  • In May, ESPN cut 250 jobs primarily in its digital operations after contract renewals with the NFL and MLB, as well as striking an 11-year deal with the USTA for rights to the U.S. Open, reported the New York Post. In early June, reported that layoffs are expected at ESPN through the summer, totaling somewhere between 300 and 400 jobs. At ESPN The Magazine, editorial director and director of ESPN’s publishing division Gary Hoenig was laid off earlier this month.
  • PBS announced the elimination of 10 positions within three cities recently, specifically in relation to its “NewsHour” program. Meanwhile, offices in Denver and San Francisco will close, where most of the employees will be laid off. The New York Times reported the decision to close the offices comes after declines in support from corporate sponsors. The changes will start to take place in July when the fiscal year comes to a close.
  • As inVocus reported previously, recently made cuts resulting in the layoffs of approximately 39 to 40 people as it streamlines its regional structure from 20 to nine teams. Meanwhile, reportedly eliminated positions in its newsroom in May, including senior writer Brian Moylan, LA news director Jean Bentley and staff writer Alicia Lutes.
  • In New York, the Village Voice lost editors Will Bourne and Jessica Lustig last month when they chose to resign rather than play the messenger in layoffs of a reported five positions from its 20 person staff. Soon after, layoffs occurred that included veteran gossip columnist Michael Musto, restaurant reviewer Robert Sietsema and theater critic Michael Feingold.
  • The biggest upset, however, came when the Chicago Sun-Times dismissed its entire photo department earlier this month, laying off a total of 28 staff members. Those within the industry can only hope that the elimination of photographers in lieu of reporters with iPhones isn’t a portent for a future trend.

Unfortunately, as news organizations still struggle to cut costs or transition to new models, employees tend to be casualties of progress and strife. It’s hard to say whether layoffs will slow in the second half of 2013, but needless to say, the first half hasn’t been overly kind.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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